Bird of Paradise to Improve your Side Extension

A high, graceful and stress free développé comes with correct alignment.  This is the key to a skillful and effortless movement.

Increasing leg height to the side relies on proper mechanics. If the thigh of the gesture leg is kept internally rotated the range of motion is greatly limited.

During the initial stages of the movement, focus should be on:

  • Keeping the hips level.
  • Dropping and rotating the femur bone in the hip socket.
  • Drawing the thigh close to the torso.

The Bird of Paradise is a balancing yoga posture that requires the same concepts to skillfully accomplish a développé, while adding the challenge of balance and drawing more attention to the standing leg.

Practicing standing on a parallel leg, as one does in Yoga, strengthens internal rotators and encourages full activation of the standing leg.  This action also prevents excessive tucking under of the pelvis, which occurs when compensating for weakness.

Imitating a développé a la seconde, this yoga pose draws focus on form, allowing improvements in strength and leg height. The bind in bird of paradise uses your arms to help push the thigh bone back in the hip socket, while lifting and expanding through the chest.

Here are some key cues that will have you binding beautifully and help you achieve that effortless developpe:

  • Ground through the standing leg. Pull up above the knee to prevent ‘locking back’ or bending of the knee as the leg raises to the side.
  • Keep hips level.
  • Draw the thigh close to the torso
  • Keep the thigh bone (femur) dropped in the hip socket and fully rotated to achieve maximum range of motion.
  • Lift up through the chest and engage the core.

SETS: 3-5 time each leg, hold for 10 counts.

Need to modify? Keep your gesture leg bent focusing on keeping the hips level, drawing the thigh bone close to the torso and dropping and rotating the femur bone in the hip socket.